Dermot O’Rourke – House
The mark of any good medical drama, in my opinion, is that while you are watching it you think: “If I had a life-threatening disease I wish I was attended by those doctors because I have no doubts that they would cure me.” No other medical drama on TV epitomises this sentiment more than the members of the diagnostic team, and more importantly Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), in House.
Although he appears insensitive to your life-threatening condition (some may say professional), is lovingly described as an “egotistical, pill-popping lawsuit magnet” by his colleagues and has possibly the worst bedside manner in the history of medicine, there is no denying that House is a genius. With his painkiller addiction, tendency to destroy all personal relationships and misanthropic nature, House should be, by rights, the most disliked character on TV but it is however because of such characteristics that he has such a profound effect on audiences.
His method for diagnosis is more akin to solving a crime compared to other TV doctors’ more boring approach and although he may get it wrong the first couple of times, causing your life-threatening condition to somehow become worse, you can be guaranteed that House, in the end, will cure you and leave you staring into the middle distance contemplating your life.
George Morahan – Scrubs
Scrubs is quite simply my favourite show and it is by far the best medical show of all time, by virtue of its enduring quality, but also because hospital dramas are usually a bit crap.
While the Grey’s and ERs of the world will manipulate any emotional situation for a slice of heightened drama, Scrubs tries to bring a bit of levity to the genre – it can still hit all the emotional beats perfectly, but there’s also ample room for inane, slapstick humour, wonderful inter-racial bromances and the Janitor.
In that regard it takes quite a bit from M*A*S*H, but Scrubs is also assuredly a product of the twenty-first century and has shaped the landscape of television a great deal. Would we have Dr. Gregory House without Dr. Percival Ulysses Cox? Would Grey’s end every episode with a beloved patient dying to a soundtrack of mopey indie rock? Could you imagine Arrested Development, 30 Rock or Community without Scrubs’ original blend of the surreal and the whip smart?
Scrubs is not only one of the funniest shows ever, but it was extremely inventive and refreshing at its best, and refused to dwell on overwrought melodrama. Scrubs almost makes you want to go to hospital.
Jon Hozier-Byrne – M*A*S*H
It’s time we all swallowed a bitter pill – medical dramas are boring. Sure, there may have glossy aesthetics, with glossy action performed by glossy beautiful people, but look past that, and what is there? Doctorial double speak, artificial tension, and actresses that are months away from starring in their very own L’Oréal advert.
There is one exception to the rule, however, and that is the legendary M*A*S*H.
Instead of gloss, you get a grim allegory for the Vietnam War, witnessed through the optics of Groucho Marx poured into a raw alcohol martini.
Set in the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War, it represents one of the darkest comedies to ever be considered mainstream. With episodic plots including concert pianists losing their fingers, and even an infamous storyline in which the protagonist, Hawkeye Pierce, is hiding from the enemy, and inadvertently tells a mother to kill her own baby to stop it crying – an episode which, at the time, was the most-watched in television history – the show had a message to go along with its comedy, and delivered both with gravitas and aplomb.
A vote for M*A*S*H is a vote for black comedy, for activism, and for men in dresses. Don’t be fooled by Valentine and her swoon-inducing men – vote M*A*S*H.
Aoife Valentine – Grey’s Anatomy
Much like you were all doomed to failure when you didn’t choose Love Actually as the greatest Christmas movie, omitting to choose a medical drama which McNicknames its hot men was the fatal flaw in your selection process. Even if you don’t like medical dramas, the presence of McDreamy and McSteamy is probably enough to win you over.
Let’s face it though; we’re not watching these shows for whatever medical bullshit they’re peddling, because we all know it’s mostly lies. I’m sure people are saved from triple madeupectomys by some intern who doesn’t know their place all the time, but really, it’s just kind of cute when Meredith is dark and twisty, and McArmy helps Cristina not be made up solely of mentalsauce. Also, Bailey.
Even without the medicine, there’s plenty of drama. I mean, George loves Meredith who loves Derek who loves her but also maybe Addison who loves Mark who loves Lexie and kind of Callie who was straight but has since gotten with any lesbian around but before that she married George who had an affair with Izzie who married Alex who screwed Lexie, who was also with George and Mark, and who hit on Derek who has a post-it marriage to Meredith who is Lexie’s sister and on and on. There is literally too much drama. I mean, seriously. Seriously.